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Stanford Researchers Make Photonic Components Faster, With Algorithmic Design - retroworks writes: Integrated photonic devices are poised to play a key role in a wide variety of applications, ranging from optical interconnects and sensors to quantum computing. However, only a small library of semi-analytically designed devices is currently known. In an article in Nature Photonics, researchers demonstrate the use of an inverse design method that explores the full design space of fabricable devices and allows them to design devices with previously unattainable functionality, higher performance and robustness, and smaller footprints than conventional devices. The designed a silicon wavelength demultiplexer splits 1,300nm and 1,550nm light from an input waveguide into two output waveguides, and the team has fabricated and characterized several devices. The devices display low insertion loss (2dB), low crosstalk (100nm). The device footprint is 2.8×2.8m2, making this the smallest dielectric wavelength splitter.

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(2015-05-30T01:19:00+00:00)

First Ultraviolet Quantum Dots Shine In an LED - ckwu with word that South Korean researchers have created the first UV-emitting quantum dots, and employed them in the creation of a flexible LED. Their achievement is notable because no one has previously succeeded in making quantum dots capable of emitting light at wavelengths shorter than 400 nm, which defines the upper range of the UV spectrum. Writes ckwu: To get quantum dots that emit UV, the researchers figured out how make them with light-emitting cores smaller than 3 nm in diameter. They did it by coating a light-emitting cadmium zinc selenide nanoparticle with a zinc sulfide shell, which caused the core to shrink to 2.5 nm. The quantum dots give off true UV light, at 377 nm. An LED made with the quantum dots could illuminate the anticounterfeiting marks on a paper bill. The article names a few applications of the technology, besides, including water sterilization and industrial applications.

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(2015-05-29T23:40:00+00:00)

Mandriva CEO: Employee Lawsuits Put Us Out of Business - Julie188 writes: As you probably heard by now, Linux company Mandriva has finally, officially gone out of business. The CEO has opened up, telling his side of the story. He blames employee lawsuits after a layoff in 2013, the French labor laws and the courts. "Those court decisions forced the company to announce bankruptcy," he said.

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(2015-05-29T22:59:00+00:00)

Android, Chromecast To Get HBO Now - An anonymous reader writes: Google's I/O 2015 conference opened with a surprise announcement: that Chromecast, Android TV, and other Android devices will soon be able to offer HBO Now. "The announcement marks the end of a 7-week exclusive that Apple had on HBO's stand-alone streaming and on-demand video service," reports Digital Trends, and it also further weakens the exclusivity of cable TV packages. "Traditional TV subscriptions are slowly starting to slip," one newspaper reports, "as more people watch online video." Other online streaming sites are already confronting the popularity of HBO's "Game of Thrones" series, with Netflix already experiencing a 33% dip in their online traffic during the new season's online premiere and Amazon rushing to discount their "Game of Thrones" graphic novels, and the turmoil seems to be continuing in the online video space. "Shortly after the premier of the new season, HBO Now seems to have taken the top spot when it comes to internet traffic," reports one technology site, "causing a huge dent in Netflix's attempt to make it to the top."

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(2015-05-29T22:18:00+00:00)

Hacking Your Body Through a Nerve In Your Neck - agent elevator writes: IEEE Spectrum has a feature (part of its Hacking the Human OS issue) on the future of vagus nerve stimulation, a device-based therapy with the potential to treat a ridiculously wide variety of ailments: epilepsy, depression, stroke, tinnitus, heart failure, migraines, asthma, the list goes on. One problem is that, because it required an implant (a bit like a pacemaker), it was never anybody's first-choice therapy. But now there's a non-invasive version, a device you just hold to your neck twice a day for a few minutes. It's being trialed first for migraines and cluster headaches (which sound horrible). If it works, vagus nerve stimulation could compete directly with drug treatments on cost and convenience and it would let doctors find new ways to hack human physiology.

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(2015-05-29T21:37:00+00:00)

Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht Sentenced To Life In Prison - An anonymous reader sends an update on the trial of Ross Ulbricht, the man behind the Silk Road online black market. Sentencing is now complete, and Ulbricht has been given life in prison. He had been facing a 20-year minimum because of the charge of being a "drug kingpin," and prosecutors were asking for a sentence substantially higher than the minimum. Prior to the sentence being handed down today, Ulbricht spoke before the court for 20 minutes, asking for leniency and for the judge to leave him a "light at the end of the tunnel." The judge was unswayed, giving Ulbricht the most severe sentence possible. She said, "The stated purpose [of the silk road] was to be beyond the law. ... Silk Road's birth and presence asserted that its creator was better than the laws of this country. This is deeply troubling, terribly misguided, and very dangerous." Ulbricht's family plans to appeal.

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(2015-05-29T20:55:00+00:00)

More About Dan Shapiro and the Glowforge CNC Laser Cutter (Video #2) - Yesterday Glowforge Co-Founder and CEO Dan Shapiro told us that the Glowforge machine is a CNC laser cutter and engraver, not a 3-D Printer -- even though the first words on Glowforge's main page are, "The First 3D Laser Printer," a description Dan says is there for people not familiar with things like laser cutters and 3-D printers, who want to call the Glowforge a 3-D printer even though people who know about this stuff know what it is at first glance. He also talks about his previous startup, Robot Turtles; what it is, how it came to be, and why kids like it so much. This interview is worth watching (or reading) for the Robot Turtles section alone, especially if you have children or are thinking about designing board games for kids.

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(2015-05-29T20:13:00+00:00)

Land Art Park Significantly Reduces Jet Engine Noise Near Airport - ClockEndGooner writes: A study conducted by the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research found that low frequency and long wavelength jet engine droning noise was significantly reduced in the fall after farmers plowed their fields near Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. The remaining furrows "had multiple ridges to absorb the sound waves, deflected the sound and muted the noise." This led to the development of the Buitenschot Land Art Park, a buffer park featuring "land art" that has significantly reduced aircraft noise without requiring cuts in the number of allowed flights in and out of the airport. The land art park has also provided neighbors with additional recreational paths and sports fields in the same space.

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(2015-05-29T19:23:00+00:00)

Professional Internet Troll Sues Her Former Employer - baegucb sends a followup to the news from March that professional internet trolls were operating by the hundreds at factories in Russia. A woman hired to be one of these trolls, Lyudmila Savchuk, spoke to the media about her job, which led to her being fired. She's now suing her former employer and providing further details about how they operate. "The 'troll factory' operates based on very weird schemes, but all those firms are connected to each other, even though they are separate legal entities," she said. "I knew it was something bad, but of course I never suspected that it was this horrible and this large-scale." She describes how they flooded comment sections with pro-Putin responses, pushed out over 100 blog posts each shift, and doctored images to suit their employers' needs. Savchuk is now gathering activists to oppose this form of internet propaganda.

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(2015-05-29T18:40:00+00:00)

Florida Hospital Shows Normal Internet Lag Time Won't Affect Remote Robotic Surgeries - Lucas123 writes: Remote robotic surgery performed hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the physician at the controls is possible and safe, according to the Florida Hospital that recently tested Internet lag times for the technology. Roger Smith, CTO at the Florida Hospital Nicholson Center in Celebration, Fla., said the hospital tested the lag time to a partner facility in Ft. Worth, Texas and found it ranged from 30 to 150 milliseconds, which surgeons could not detect as they moved remote robotic laparoscopic instruments. The tests, performed using a surgical simulator called a Mimic, will now be performed as if operating remotely in Denver and then Loma Linda, Calif. The Mimic Simulator system enables virtual procedures performed by a da Vinci robotic surgical system, the most common equipment in use today; it's used for hundreds of thousands of surgeries every year around the world. With a da Vinci system, surgeons today can perform operations yards away from a patient, even in separate but adjoining rooms to the OR. By stretching that distance to tens, hundreds or thousands of miles, the technology could enable patients to receive operations from top surgeons that would otherwise not be possible, including wounded soldiers near a battlefield. The Mimic Simulator was able to first artificially dial up lag times, starting with 200 milliseconds all the way up to 600 milliseconds.

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(2015-05-29T17:58:00+00:00)

Emulator Now Runs x86 Apps On All Raspberry Pi Models - DeviceGuru writes: Russia-based Eltechs announced its ExaGear Desktop virtual machine last August, enabling Linux/ARMv7 SBCs and mini-PCs to run x86 software. That meant that users of the quad-core, Cortex-A7-based Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, could use it as well, although the software was not yet optimized for it. Now Eltechs has extended extended ExaGear to support earlier ARMv6 versions of the Raspberry Pi. The company also optimized the emulator for the Pi 2 allowing, for example, Pi 2 users to use automatically forwarding startup scripts.

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(2015-05-29T17:17:00+00:00)

MIT Trains Robots To Jump - Nerval's Lobster writes: MIT just announced that its researchers have programmed a robotic cheetah that can leap over obstacles without a prompt from a human controller. The machine's onboard sensors rely on reflected laser-light to judge obstacles' distance and height, and use that data to fuel the algorithm for a safe jump. The robot's controlling algorithm takes into account such factors as the speed needed to launch its mass over the obstacle, the best position for a jump, and the amount of energy required from the onboard electric motor. As of this writing, the robot can clear 90 percent of obstacles on an open track. "A running jump is a truly dynamic behavior," Sangbae Kim, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, is quoted as saying in a university press release. "You have to manage balance and energy, and be able to handle impact after landing. Our robot is specifically designed for those highly dynamic behaviors." For years, some tech pundits have worried that robots and software will gradually replace human workers in key industries such as manufacturing and IT administration. Now they have something else to fret over: Robots replacing the world's hurdlers.

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(2015-05-29T16:30:00+00:00)

Uber Revises Privacy Policy, Wants More Data From Users - itwbennett tips news that Uber has amended its privacy policy, making it much simpler to read and understand. But the policy also includes changes to what data Uber collects about its riders. Beginning July 15th, the Uber phone app will keep track of a rider's location while it's running in the background. Uber says riders will be able to opt out of this tracking. The policy changes also allow for advertising using the rider's contact list: "for example the ability to send special offers to riders' friends or family." The revision of Uber's privacy policy followed complaints at the end of last year that the company was overstepping its bounds.

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(2015-05-29T15:49:00+00:00)

The Underground Hacking Economy - Fast Company profiles the rise of sites like Hackers List and Hackers For Hire, which provide consolidated markets for people to hire hackers to break passwords, alter databases, learn to operate malware, and more. People with the skills to circumvent security are putting themselves out there as freelancers for specific tasks, and people in need of their services are posting notices asking for help. Law enforcement agencies are warning about this new type of behavior, saying it's often illegal, and facilitated by online anonymity and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The number of deals currently being made through these sites remains small, but it's growing — particularly among business seeking to gain an advantage over competitors in other countries.

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(2015-05-29T15:05:00+00:00)

Crowdfunded, Solar-powered Spacecraft Goes Silent - Last week saw the successful launch of the Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft, the solar-powered satellite that runs Linux and was crowdfunded on Kickstarter. The spacecraft worked flawlessly for two days, but then fell silent, and the engineering team has been working hard on a fix ever since. They've pinpointed the problem: a software glitch. "Every 15 seconds, LightSail transmits a telemetry beacon packet. The software controlling the main system board writes corresponding information to a file called beacon.csv. If you're not familiar with CSV files, you can think of them as simplified spreadsheets—in fact, most can be opened with Microsoft Excel. As more beacons are transmitted, the file grows in size. When it reaches 32 megabytes—roughly the size of ten compressed music files—it can crash the flight system." Unfortunately, the only way to clear that CSV file is to reboot LightSail. It can be done remotely, but as anyone who deals with crashing computers understands, remote commands don't always work. The command has been sent a few dozen times already, but LightSail remains silent. The best hope may now be that the system spontaneously reboots on its own.

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(2015-05-29T14:22:00+00:00)